Do you know a dad whose essence just isn’t captured by the usual Father’s Day cards, with their abundance of golf, beer, grilling, and fishing? Luckily, the depiction of dads in picture books is far more varied and inclusive. Here are six terrific picture books about fathers that celebrate all kinds of dads.
Dandy, by Ame Dyckman and Charles Santoso
Some dads take lawn care very seriously. But in Dandy, Ame Dyckman’s sweet new book, even a dad with a pristine lawn can let things go to seed a little in the name of his daughter’s happiness. As Dandy opens, a daddy lion spies a lone dandelion emerging on his lawn. Panicked, he rushes out to remove it—but before he gets there, his daughter, little Sweetie, has declared the weed to be her flower, named it Charlotte, and appointed it her best friend. Egged on by the lawncare devotees of the neighborhood, Daddy tries to remove the dandelion when Sweetie isn’t there—but she’s always there, her love for Charlotte growing by the day. Eventually, Daddy must choose between his lawn and his daughter. Kids with super daddies, you know how that’s going to turn out, right?
My Dad Used to Be So Cool, by Keith Negley
The little boy who narrates this book is puzzled by evidence of his dad’s past life. While his dad goes about his boring dad day, folding laundry and vacuuming, his son notices his sleeve tattoos, instruments tucked away in the closet, and photos of him with a red mohawk, fronting a rock band. “My dad having fun?” he says, “I wish I could have seen it.” The boy may never determine what mysterious occurrence led his father to sell his motorcycle and give up his rock band, but the way the dad spends all day playing with and caring for his son gives readers a clue in this droll book with striking stylized illustrations.
Lawrence in the Fall, by Matthew Farina and Doug Salati
This sweet book shows that while dads may not have all the answers to life’s problems, they usually have a pretty good idea about where to look for them. Lawrence, a young fox, gets stressed out when his teacher assigns everyone to bring in something they collect for show and tell. All the other animals already have collections, but not Lawrence. Lawrence’s dad finds him crying that night and when he hears the explanation says, “I know a place where we might find a collection fit for a special fox like you.” The next day Lawrence’s dad brings him to the forest, and they begin their search for a collection. Eventually the answer comes to Lawrence on the wind.
The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, by Éric Veillé and Pauline Martin
When the little boy in this book loses his dad during a game of hide and seek, he knows just where to find him: The Bureau of Misplaced Dads. The hysterical, imaginative illustrations depict cave dads “who’ve been waiting around since the dawn of time,” 18th century dads playing checkers, and a strongman dad showing off his muscles. “Once a year, we release a few dads back into the wild. Just for fun,” the director of the bureau confides. The little boy grows frustrated—none of these are his dad, but he can’t really describe his dad either. “He knows me,” the boy says, “and he’s the one who drives me to school.” Luckily, seeing such a vast array of dad-dom jogs the boy’s memory about where he misplaced his own dad.
A Perfect Father’s Day, by Eve Bunting and Susan Meddaugh
This sweet book depicts how small children assume that the way they observe their fathers spending their time is their favorite way to spend time, period. Four-year-old Susie declares to her father that she’s “taking you out for a perfect Father’s Day.” Her dad is game as she leads him to the crowded fast food restaurant she assumes is his favorite, brings him to the park where she likes to play, and definitely doesn’t spoil the surprise that her mom has planned for him for later.
Papa’s Backpack by James Christopher Carroll
Holidays can be tough for military families that cannot spend them together, and this book honors their commitment and their bond. A little bear explains, “My papa is a soldier, with arms strong and warm. My papa is a soldier, and sometimes soldiers go.” The little bear imagines if he could go with his papa in his backpack, and witness everything he does. But in the end, he knows it’s best if he lets his papa go off to do his service, while he stays home and plays.
What picture books are helping your family celebrate Father’s Day?